Summer Cruise – The Finish Line

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Crikey, he’s been gardening!

It was so hot boating yesterday we resolved to make an early start and believe it or not we did, slipping our mooring a 7am just as another early riser slid out of Cropredy Lock. I guess they were far earlier than us as all the locks were in our favour all the way up to the bottom of the Claydon flight.

DSCF3802At Claydon we slowly followed a Calcutt hire boat all the way up but once at the top lock they were gone and we didn’t see them again until we arrived at Fenny Compton.

We did more chores, a pump out at Fenny Marina and after mooring up close to The Wharf Inn we did our washing at the pub’s launderette and made arrangements with Penny, the landlady about our forthcoming Ruby Wedding Celebration.

Summer Cruise – Day 40

So day 40 has arrived, and on Sunday so does the 40th Anniversary of our marriage, so perhaps I should have called this our Ruby Cruise.

DSCF3789We had lots of errands to do in Banbury (like collecting 5 weeks worth of post) which took up most of the morning, but had time to notice this BW notice by our mooring asking boaters not to dispose of their rubbish in these bins (pity the photo isn’t in focus).
Now, fair enough there is a waste disposal point (sometimes frequented by rough sleepers) by the bus station,  at the far end of these

DSCF3790 ‘Honey Pot’ moorings which were packed from end to end, but I thought it a bit much that Banbury Town Council should object to boaters rubbish as there is a very good chance that said rubbish is the detritus of  purchases made in the town, supporting the local economy.
We made our way out of town and had an easy run in blazing sunshine into Cropredy where we spent the night.

Summer Cruise – Day 39

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The Pig Place

Today, a short hop from Aynho to Banbury filling up with water, diesel and gas before we left at Walker Services, Aynho Wharf.

We called in at The Pig Place on the way up, bought eggs and sampled Buffalo Milk Ice Cream!

We moored on Castle Quay, Banbury and then picked up the car from Heyford and shot off to Upton-on-Severn, to take a look at our son’s boat gearbox which had been protesting at coming up the Severn. I changed the oil and checked the levels on everything else so hopefully all will be well as he leaves the river for the calm canals at Worcester.

Summer Cruise – Day 38

DSCF3783Today being Sunday and us being in Heyford we decided to surprise our friends at church by turning up at Heyford Park Chapel, they were very pleased to see us again after being AWOL for so long.

 

 

 

DSCF3784We had arranged to meet our friends from Heyford, Chris, Emily & their boys Oliver & George for a trip up to Aynho after lunch and we had a fantastic afternoon with them in the sunshine. The boys enjoyed working  the locks for us and thanks to them we made good time, they all had a turn steering the boat and acquitted themselves well.

 

After arriving at Aynho more visitors were waiting for us! David and Anne from back in Gloucestershire were caravanning nearby and phoned to see if they could visit, Dave was my boss at Listers more years ago than either of us care to remember and it was good to catch up with them.

Summer Cruise – Day 37

DSCF3778Last night, as arranged, we met up with Maffi and Bones at the pub and also had the pleasure of meeting fellow bloggers Al & Del from nb Derwent 6 before they headed off for the Thames.
Today was a family day as it is our grandson’s birthday tomorrow, we had a boatful of visitors, Jeremy, Rebecca, Iona, Isabelle and of course the birthday boy, Morley plus his mate Connor.

We headed off on familiar territory bound for Lower Heyford, with the kids enthusiastically ‘helping’ us through the locks. We took a break at The Rock of Gibraltar where Stamatis and family were busy with an influx of diners brought out by the sunshine. As we went on our way, Joy contrived to feed us all with baked potatoes and mince in a bolognaise sauce.

The canal was not overly busy and both Jer and I had to get used to a narrow canal again, me after the Thames and he, the Gloucester & Sharpness, it’s funny how you feel 20 foot is close to another boat on the river but 6 inches is OK on the canal! Oxfordshire Narrowboats’s dayboats were out in force and we passed the time of day with someone at nearly every lock.

DSCF3782When we approached Heyford we met two more of their hire boats setting off on their holidays. We stopped on the 48s (48 hour moorings) next to friends on nb Prancing Pony and while Jer & I went up to the boatyard to say hi to the owner, David and his staff Joy and Becca prepared a birthday tea for Morley complete with jelly worms, thanks Bones for the link!

Cars were shuffled so we are ready for the next leg to Banbury and we said goodbye to the gang as they had to make their way back to Gloucestershire. We managed to get TV via the satellite dish but were too tired to watch it so went to bed early only to be woken up by a phone call from our daughter, Karen, in Australia. Miraculously we managed a chat despite the abysmal phone signal here by dint of positioning the phone as near to our signal booster as possible and talking to her on speakerphone. No internet signal here whatsoever so this post will have to be uploaded when we move on.

Summer Cruise – Day 36

Escape from the Thames

Folly BridgeAfter fortifying ourselves with bacon and eggs for breakfast we rang Osney Lock at 11am as the lock-keeper had suggested and were rewarded with the good news that they were now on Yellow Boards. “Are you busy?” we said “Not yet they replied, the news hasn’t got out yet!” so off we went.

 

 

Approaching Osney LockThe journey up to the lock gave no problems and as we approached the lock we rang again, as there had been boats moored on the lay by yesterday, they were just locking a boat down, so we pootled along slowly until we saw them coming down and were then able to go straight into the lock. The lock cut which is alongside East Street was much calmer

 

than when I walked up yesterday and then there was just Osney Bridge to get under, a nominal 7’ 6” air draft (Headroom).

Ooh! Will we fit?

We need 7’ 0” to clear our topboxes and the lockie reckoned it was down to 7’ 3”  we had already filled our water tank to ballast the front down and added our generator to the payload at the lock, so gingerly edging forward against the flow we were able to creep under with inches to spare.

 

Kings Lock

 

After that it was easy, Godstow Lock was a doddle, there was a strong flow across Kings Lock entrance but the lockie had the gates open ready for us and got in safely, albeit with the stream pushing us diagonally as we approached.

 

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A right turn, up to the weir, then hard left and we were in the mill stream in transition between river and canal. Apart from almost missing the turn into Dukes Cut and heading up to the old mill we managed famously and were soon back and able to relax on the familiar surroundings of the Oxford Canal and having to work the locks ourselves.
                                Did I say relax?

 

Joy was back at the helm to take the boat through, while I operated the locks. A phone call to our local spies elicited that there were no moorings by Thrupp Cottages, but we were fortunate to find a vacant space outside The Jolly Boatman where we hope to meet up with Maffi and Bones later on.

Summer Cruise – Day 35

paulhogan1A quiet evening at Abingdon, we took a walk through the old abbey gardens to Waitrose for a few provisions, then indulged ourselves by watching Crocodile Dundee on satellite TV, “That’s not a knife.  That’s a knife.” still makes me laugh.

 

DSCF3742We woke up to sunshine and were away promptly and through Abingdon Lock, on the five mile stretch up to Sandford Lock we spotted a couple of curiosities, first Nuneham Park where this monument caught our eye, some research on Wikipedia revealed that it used to stand at Carfax, in the middle of Oxford.

“By 1787 it had become an obstacle to traffic and it was removed and replaced by a smaller cistern. The original structure was given to the Earl Harcourt, who had it re-erected in the grounds of his home, Nuneham House, where it remains to this day.”

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Our next surprise was what appeared to be four pale blue-green buoys across the river but an arm appeared from one of them and we realised it was people swimming! They seemed very relaxed and even had the energy to chat with us as we passed.

 

DSCF3749We stopped for lunch at the Kings Arms at Sandford Lock and moored up in front of Tyseley, the Mikron Theatre Company’s narrowboat. We spoke to the crew/cast who told us they had been there for a fortnight waiting for the river conditions to improve. They are performing tonight at Eynsham so I guess they have back up road transport.

 

DSCF3752By coincidence they are at The Wharf, Fenny Compton on the 29th July, the day after we will be celebrating our Ruby Wedding anniversary there.
Here you can find all their tour dates.

We spotted this fine craft at the Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel.

 

 

DSCF3754Our journey ended this afternoon moored up opposite the University Boathouses, just before Folly Bridge, Oxford. Osney Lock is still on ‘Red Boards’ and I took a walk up there and had a chat with the lock-keeper who suggested we phone tomorrow as he hoped the conditions would have improved overnight.

 

Osney Bridge certainly looks very low, so I hope our top boxes will fit underneath. We have been entertained this evening by watching the rowers practicing and Salter’s Steamers plying up and down with their sometimes noisy passengers and now to watch Lewis to complete the Oxford experience.

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Boathouse Panorama

Summer Cruise – Day 34

DSCF3732After such a pleasant, sunny day yesterday, which I count as our best afternoon on the Thames with hardly another boat to be seen, today was dull and drizzly but we are still on the move but not many photos!

DSCF3736The river was still flowing strongly in places and not necessarily where warnings were indicated, Clifton Lock was on ‘Self-Service’ when we arrived, our first such experience, between there and Culham Locks it was Red Boards and was a little choppy towards the Culham end, but we were in the company of two cruisers and got there safe and sound.

Leaving Culham the heavens  opened and the rain came down like stair-rods, before I could don my waterproof trousers I was soaked so didn’t bother to change until it suddenly stopped about 10 minutes later.

DSCF3738The two cruisers arrived at Abingdon first and bagged the moorings before the bridge, so we had to fight the flow under the bridge and the following few hundred yards where we struggled to make headway but there on the left was a space just big enough for us in a bit of slack water which made it easier to moor up.

 

So here we are on Abbey Meadows next to the outdoor swimming pool and dinner is on the go. Praying that we don’t get too much more rain and we can make Oxford tomorrow and would you believe it… the sun has come out!

Summer Cruise – Day 33

Another Tank of Gas and back on the Road again

The Captain at the ‘elum

The last time I quoted that Lobo lyric I was taken to task for using road when I meant canal, but the old boatmen always used to refer to a good or bad road referring the merits of a day’s boating, so I am unrepentant.

We did, in fact, have a good road today and it started with a tank of fuel at Better Boating. I rang the lock keeper at Caversham Lock who told me his section was still on ‘Red Boards’ but I could use my discretion, so as the trip to get fuel went OK we decided to go for it. In the event it was Mapledurham Lock weir that was trickier, even though it was on Yellow Boards but that I understand that it is often quite fierce.

We covered this part of our trip two years ago when we collected our ‘new’ boat from the K & A . Today was gloriously sunny and we saw many sights, expected and unexpected, a field of alpacas, a steam launch not to mention the grand houses, traditional and modern. See the slideshow below.

We made it through to Cleve Lock where we filled with water and went on to Pangbourne Meadows where we had our lunch break. As we wanted to take advantage of the good weather and good conditions we made Wallingford our target. We achieved our goal and moored on the public moorings on the right after the town bridge, the flow through, and beyond the bridge was very strong and I could see how a boat got trapped, broadside against the upstream side of the bridge last week. No such problems for us thanks goodness and we have spent a pleasant, warm evening here.

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Summer Cruise – Day 32

No boating again today as the portents of EA River Thames conditions site were not good, so we took the opportunity to exercise our bus passes and collect our car and take it for its MoT.

We did very well in catching Tesco’s free bus into town, same stop to take the X40 to Oxford, across to Magdelen Street on the 300, down to the Black Horse Kidlington on the 28, have lunch there while we waited for the S4 down to Thrupp. Who says our public transport is rubbish!

Transferring to our car we drove to our home town of Dursley, to Mill Motors (who I used to share premises with) to leave the car for its test on Wednesday,  however they found that they had time to do it there and then AND it passed! It was good to catch up with my old colleagues too.

We then drove back to the boat at Reading and on consulting the oracle again found that river conditions were forecast to improve on the morrow, so I decided to return the car to Thrupp while I left Joy on board so we had the chance of an early start tomorrow. Once again I was able to prevail on our good friend Maffi to run me back to Oxford and return via bus to Reading and got a taxi back to the boat.

A full on day, but very productive.